Sea turtle symposium at IMCC 2018

Photo credit - Perhentian Turtle Project 2015

Photo courtesy of Perhentian Turtle Project

The 5th International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC) will be held in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia from 24th to 29th June 2018. The IMCC is the flagship biennial meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) Marine Section, previously held in Washington D.C, USA (2009), Victoria, Canada (2011), Glasgow, UK (2014) and St. John’s, Canada (2016). For the first time, the meeting will be held in Malaysia, a “low or middle income” country as defined by the World Bank, also one of the world’s most biologically diverse countries.

The IMCC brings together a large number of marine conservation biologists, social scientists, practitioners, policy makers, teachers and journalists to help “Make Marine Science Matter”, which presents a good opportunity for sea turtle conservationists to meet and share knowledge. Dr. Chen Pelf Nyok (from Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia) and I (from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu) will be organizing a sea turtle symposium titled Sea turtle conservation in Southeast Asia: where we are and how do we move forward”?

Sea turtles are ancient creatures that have been around since the time of the dinosaurs. Nearly all seven species of sea turtles that spend majority of the lifetime in the ocean are endangered due to fisheries bycatch, marine debris, harvesting for meat and eggs, destruction of habitat as well as boat strikes. In some countries, conservation efforts have begun more than half a century ago. Much has been studied about their life history, population trends, ecology, conservation genetics, conservation efforts, human-sea turtle interactions, policy and etc.

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Photos courtesy of Perhentian Turtle Project

The symposium will provide an avenue for sea turtle researchers, conservationists, non-academicians to promote their research, share their findings, identify common threats and legislation loopholes.It also provides a platform to discuss how these findings can be translated into advances in conservation policies and legislation, and communicated to the public.

Speakers will share on the various aspects of sea turtle research and conservation in the Southeast Asia region at this symposium, including Dr. Nicholas Pilcher from Marine Research Foundation who is also a member of IUCN SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group, Gavin Jolis and Noor Azariyah Mohtar from WWF-Malaysia, Dr. Jarina Mohd Jani who is a human ecologist from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, Sue A. Ong from Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines, The Cuong Chu from Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, K. L. Chew from Lang Tengah Turtle Watch as well as Tanya Leibrick from Turtle Watch Camp.

In addition to this symposium, there are numerous presentations on sea turtle research and conservation during the IMCC by Dr. Andrea Phillott (from FLAME University), Madhuri Ramesh (from Dakshin Foundation), Azalea Anota (from University of Papua New Guinea), Dr. Abdulmaula Hamza (from Universiti Malaysi Terengganu) and many more. Dr. Juanita Joseph from Universiti Malaysia Sabah will also be giving a plenary talk on the current status and challenges in saving sea turtles in Malaysia. Click here to check out all the amazing turtle talks at IMCC.

We look forward to meeting you at IMCC! Feel free to get in touch with Pelf (chenpn@gmail.com) or me (lsehling@gmail.com) for more information on the sea turtle symposium.

Seh Ling.PTP

Photo courtesy of Perhentian Turtle Project

Who Are We – Langur Project Penang?

The Dusky Langurs (Trachypithecus obscurus), also known by other names, such as lotong, lutong, dusky leaf monkeys and spectacled langur, are distributed from Southern Burma to Peninsular Malaysia, and also found on the island of Penang. Found mostly in forested areas, the dusky langur is arboreal (i.e. lives in trees) and folivorous (i.e. specialize in eating leaves); although they also feed on certain fruits, flowers and young shoots. The dusky langur plays a crucial role in forest regeneration as an essential seed disperser. In many countries, primates like the dusky langur are considered part of its natural heritage, with immense biological interest and importance in ecological cycle.

An alpha male dusky langur (left) and an infant langur (right).

Due to deforestation that is the result of Penang’s rapid development, habitat loss has driven the dusky langur out of their quickly disappearing natural habitats into urban areas. As food sources become scarce, the monkeys are forced to travel between fragmented forests, exposing themselves to road accidents and encounters with other animals—especially humans. Humans often attempt to feed the monkeys, a habit Langur Project Penang (LPP) is working to discourage: not only does this alter the behaviour of the monkeys (i.e. inducing dependency on food handouts, disease transmission due to overcrowding behaviour and increased aggressiveness due to human-primate conflict), it also causes serious internal damage, since human food is not suitable for primates to digest safely.

Langurs roadkills have increased due to forest fragmentation.

Apart from deforestation and habitat fragmentation, another huge threat to the dusky langur is the illegal poaching and wildlife trade. The high demand for exotic animals as pets has caused an unrecorded number of monkey deaths, as poachers must annihilate an entire family group just to retrieve the baby; in a tragic twist, the baby soon follows its family, unable to live long without proper care. Still, most local residents have no idea on the population status of dusky langurs and why it is important to preserve the species and their surrounding natural habitat.

Demand is high on the illegal dusky langur trade

Sadly, demand is high on the illegal dusky langur trade.

With these threats in mind, the LPP positions itself as an outreach project under the umbrella of the Malaysian Primatological Society (MPS) and Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). LPP is a research project that studies the ecology and behavior of the Dusky Langur. Initiated since January 2016, LPP aims to serve as a platform for environmental research and education for students and the local community. Founded by Joleen Yap, who is now a Ph.D. (Zoology) student in USM, she leads a small team of passionate and enthusiastic individuals of different backgrounds, established LPP to reach out to public of all ages to educate them about the importance of a healthy ecological cycle through fieldwork, citizen science conservation programmes and nature education.

LPP counts members from numerical backgrounds and ethnics!

LPP counts members from numerical backgrounds and ethnics!

LPP is actively involved in various wildlife conservation events and programmes in Penang and other parts of Peninsular Malaysia, where these efforts aim to expose local residents of all backgrounds toward the importance of conserving our natural resources (flora and fauna). To attract people’s attention toward understanding of rainforest ecosystem, LPP places dusky langurs as the ‘ambassador’ of the forest, where people get the chance to learn about the langurs’ homes (natural habitats), friends (sympatric species) and food (native plants). This serves as a complete forest education syllabus to the young and elders.

Our project founder, Joleen, and project assistant, Wen, tracking the langurs on the hills

Our project founder, Joleen, and project assistant, Wen, tracking the langurs on the hills

We will be updating more information regarding LPP soon in this blog! From fieldwork to education and conservation aspects. For more interesting updates regarding LPP, please visit these following links:

https://www.facebook.com/LangurProjectPenang/

https://www.rufford.org/projects/jo_leen_yap

https://www.rufford.org/projects/jo_leen_yap_0

http://ericthoo.com/2017/12/27/langur-project-penang-dirty-hands/

https://www.mystartr.com/projects/langurprojectpenang

https://www.mystartr.com/projects/langurprojectpenang

http://anilnetto.com/environmentclimate-change/hills-sea-scant-regard-ecosystem/